The Air Force Materiel Command hosted its second Women’s Leadership Symposium on Nov. 8 with a theme of “Women in Leadership – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”
Nearly 1,500 AFMC Airmen tuned into the virtual stream to hear from guests that included former AFMC Commander, retired Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski; Brig. Gen. Alice Trevino, commander, Air Force Installation Contracting Center; retired Col. Nicole Malachowski, the first female Air Force Thunderbird pilot; AFMC senior leadership; and others.
With topics ranging from female leadership to work-life integration, resilience, career development and diversity in the workplace, the event provided opportunities to learn for all.
“We are the most diverse MAJCOM in the Air Force. That goes for educational levels, age demographics, ethnicity, gender…we are extremely diverse in everything that we do,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr. AFMC commander. “We have a lot of initiatives that are focused on giving every Airman, uniformed or non-uniformed, the opportunity to perform to their full potential in whatever role they may have. It is going to take all of us collectively working together to address barriers and create that environment where everyone has the opportunity to perform to their full potential.”
As the first featured speaker, Pawlikowski shared her Air Force story titled, “Being the Only Woman in the Room,” in which she talked about the obstacles she overcame as a service minority and what kept her pushing to achieve more. Pawlikowski emphasized that every Airman has a story and the importance of sharing one’s stories and experiences as an opportunity to learn.
“Since I retired I had a chance to reflect on my story and I was surprised, when I laid out my experiences, how much it actually follows the last 30-something years of integration of women into our Air Force,” said Pawlikowski. “It was not unusual for me, through most of my career, to find myself as the only woman in the room. I got to do some amazing things … some things that I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that I would have been able to do. I can now point to things like GPS and tell my grandchildren that I was a part of that.”
Malachowski shared her experiences in becoming the first female Air Force Thunderbird pilot and how she discovered the Air Force Wounded Warrior program during a time of need.
She shared that even when it seems like the odds are not in your favor, or that your dreams are too big, that it is important that one does not write themselves out of the script.
“The path to success is always nonlinear,” said Malachowski.
The event also featured discussions on career progression, work-life balance and resiliency, with each speaker sharing their struggles and successes along the career journey. The symposium also featured a discussion on the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and what each individual could do daily to help make the organization a better place for all.
“Different doesn’t equal deficient. We want equity … to treat everyone fair,” said Keith Tickle, program lead, AFMC Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. “We cannot get after equality until we mitigate equity.”
Patricia Young, AFMC executive director, provided closing remarks.
“Thank you all for attending,” said Young. “What a great lineup that we had to speak to our workforce. Thank you so much for sharing your time, your experiences and your insights. You truly have so much to give, and you give so freely to developing our workforce.”
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